Counting Down the Top 25 Players in the NFC South: No. 17, James Anderson

Knox Bardeen@knoxbardeenNFC South Lead WriterJuly 9, 2012

Carolina LB James Anderson is No. 17 on the top 25 NFC SOuth Players list of 2012.
Carolina LB James Anderson is No. 17 on the top 25 NFC SOuth Players list of 2012.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Welcome back to “Counting Down the Top 25 Players in the NFC South.” To see the entire list as it unfolds, scroll down to the bottom of this page. To see the rules and ranking criteria, click here.


James Anderson has been a tackling machine for the past two seasons. His 145 stops were fourth-best in the NFC last season, and with 130 the year prior, Anderson is starting to show that he will be a mainstay in the 100-tackle club on a yearly basis.

But Anderson isn't just a great tackler, he's also good in coverage. According to Pro Football Focus, Anderson is the best outside linebacker in the NFC South with a 1.11 yards/cover snap ratio. That's a statistic that shows the amount of yards a linebacker allows while in primary coverage compared to the number of snaps he plays in coverage.

Anderson also ranks 14th in the league on Pro Football Focus' pass rush productivity among 4-3 outside linebackers.

It seems as if Anderson might be able to do it all, but he's definitely the least publicized linebacker in the Panthers' starting front seven. Jon Beason is coming back after missing 2011 with an Achilles' issue, and Luke Kuechley was drafted in the first round and is expected to shine instantly.

All three linebackers that start for Carolina have the skills to register 100 tackles in 2012. But in reality, the more versatile Anderson may be asked to focus less on the ball-carrier and more on getting to the quarterback or in coverage schemes.

Anderson could become one of those linebackers who's dangerous—and by that I mean really dangerous—on a number of different levels. He might put up some staggering attack and coverage numbers while Beason and Kuechley lead the team in tackles.


The 2012 Bleacher Report Top 25 Players in the NFC South List

17. James Anderson, LB, Carolina Panthers

18. Jahri Evans, OG, New Orleans Saints

19. Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Atlanta Falcons

20. Jon Beason, LB, Carolina Panthers

21. John Abraham, DE, Atlanta Falcons

22. Charles Johnson, DE, Carolina Panthers

23. Adrian Clayborn, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

24. Curtis Lofton, LB, New Orleans Saints

25. Josh Freeman, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Top 25 List (by team)

Atlanta Falcons:  2

Carolina Panthers: 3

New Orleans Saints: 2

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2 


Top 25 List (by position)

QB: 1

LB: 4

DE: 3

OG: 1